The Bose Home Speaker 500 with Amazon Alexa is typical Bose sound and build quality wrapped up in a semi-futuristic looking speaker enclosure.
I must admit approaching the review of the Bose Home Speaker 500 with a degree of scepticism – a $599.95 Bluetooth speaker, even with Alexa better be damned good.
What are Bose Smart Home speakers?
Bose has hitched its wagon to Amazon Alexa, and all that entails. The new range includes
- Home Speaker 500 in Triple Black or Lux Silver
- Soundbar 500
- Soundbar 700
Note that these do not work with other Bose speakers in a multi-room setup. Nor will It do multi-room with Amazon’s Echo products or act as an intercom etc. That has been a deal breaker with many Bose aficionados.
Review Paradigms: Bose Home Speaker 500
- This is a stereo speaker in the one enclosure – it needs to create a stereo sound stage with reasonable separation
- As it is likely to be in the lounge or kitchen, it needs to generate at least 80dB of distortion free sound
- Given its intended use as a music streaming device, it needs to have a warm and sweet sound signature with an EQ that can add or subtract bass or treble.
- We are not concerned with what Alexa can do (GadgetGuy 101 here), but we are concerned with how effective its far-field mics are and how its 70 x 50mm colour screen interacts with Alexa
- Ease of setup for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Music sources
Now we love Bose stuff, but you must remember that Bose does not give detailed specifications. All that is on its website is dimensions and weight – 20.3 cm H x 17 cm W x 10.9 cm D x 2.15kg.
The Bose Home speaker 500 plugs into a 240V power outlet via a right angle 2-pin cable.
- Download the Bose Music app for Android or iOS
- You must create a Bose account.
- In the app add speaker (you are using BT at this point, and it can just act as a BT speaker or via 3.5mm AUX In)
- Setup Wi-Fi (it supports 2.4GHz and 5Ghz)
- Add it to Alexa Voice Assistant (you need an Amazon account)
Overall the Bose app saw the speaker but was very slow in reconnecting after the NBN went down. I almost did a reset!
It defaults to a clock when not showing speaker information, icons or the streaming service, album and artist currently playing.
It serves no other purpose like touch controls or displaying Alexa information.
You can set up six presets using the Bose Music app or the buttons on the top. These are for internet radio or playlists from the app.
It is an Alexa speaker, and it presumes content will come from Amazon Prime music. Via the app you can access Dreezer, SiriusXM (US only), TuneIn radio or Spotify Premium (not free).
Via Alexa you can access music services it supports via installing the appropriate skill. Note that these do not usually support playlist set up in the full app.
Note it does not support the Amazon Echo multi-room, broadcast or hands-free speakerphone capability.
Bose does not say what quality streaming it supports. I tried a few like FLAC, MP3, AC and WMA and all performed fine, but it was not high-res music as far as I could tell.
Bose’s US website says Airplay 2 coming in 2019 – via a firmware update.